An art exhibition and a dinner for residents are among the seven Nillumbik community initiatives collectively awarded Victorian Government grants of nearly $33,000 to mark the tenth anniversary of Black Saturday.
The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Commemoration and Community Development Scheme approved all seven local applications to commemorate the horrific bushfires which tore through Nillumbik Shire on Saturday, 7 February 2009.
In total 173 Victorians lost their lives, over 400 were injured and a huge number of homes and structures were destroyed.
Mayor Karen Egan welcomed the local community initiatives as a way to mark the darkest day in the Shire’s history.
“These projects aim to recognise this important date with the dignity and sensitivity it deserves.
“For so many the hurt is ongoing – we want to respectfully acknowledge this, while also paying tribute to all the renewal achieved since the devastation,” Egan said.
“People grieve differently. There will be those who don’t want to be reminded of the day and we remain respectful and mindful of that.
“But these grants with local in-kind Council and community contribution will support those who do want to mark the occasion,” Egan said.
The projects include:
- An informal open day with a film and a psychologist guest speaker at St Andrews Community Centre.
- Showcasing the publication of the memoir The Butterfly Effect at the Butterfly Community Arts studio.
- A grant given to the Hurstbridge Traders Association for a mural on a local building wall celebrating the passage from disaster to new life.
- A community dinner for residents at Christmas Hills Landcare hosted by Chills.
- A special memorial exhibition hosted by Nillumbik Shire Council entitled Renewal at the Eltham Library Community Gallery and Wadambuk Art Gallery, St Andrews.
- A commemoration and remembrance event, followed by dinner, held by the Strathewen 10th Anniversary Working Group. Between 300 to 500 are expected.
- Nillumbik Shire Council Rural Community Leadership Program with participants from bushfire-affected communities. The program will take an action learning approach to developing community leadership skills with each participant focusing on the delivery of a community project.
Neville Ragg, who founded Christmas Hills Lounge (Chills), an informal group that started after Black Saturday and held monthly BBQs at the Christmas Hills CFA station for many years, said he expected around 100 people to attend the dinner.
“We don’t want anything formal – just a get together to mark the occasion,” Mr Ragg, also a volunteer CFA firefighter, said.